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Customer Experience Design as a Craft

To an outsider that does not understand the work, it may look like we draw lots of pictures, talk too much, ask people invasive repetitive questions and then play back the answers. To the insiders who adore customer-centred innovation and design, it is a craft that produces collaborative art.

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So, how do I define Customer Experience Design?

Customer experience design is the craft of using real consumers and their needs as the calibrating force to design customer value propositions and interactions.

The essential steps in customer experience design are founded in design thinking that follows these steps:

  1. Empathise – get a real understanding from customers about their needs, wants and challenges
  2. Define – define the problem you are trying to solve or the need you are trying to satisfy
  3. Ideate – come up with differentiated ideas/concepts to satisfy this need or solve the customer problem
  4. Prototype – give life to the idea through physical prototyping. This may also take the form of role playing when it comes to interaction design. But when dealing with intangible services, it actually makes it a lot more tangible to build physical prototypes.
  5. Test – the ability to test the concept with your consumer very early on enables you to adapt before too much is invested in processes and systems.

So, at the intersection where Journey Mapping meets Design Thinking is where collaborative innovation and disruption occur.

If we look at a typical Journey Mapping session, we following an agenda that looks like this:

  1. Create a persona for a typical customer (or target segment).
  2. Create a story for that customer that elaborates on his needs, wants and life events.
  3. Discuss the triggers that would start this customer’s engagement with your brand, the typical journey he would follow and interaction channels he would choose.
  4. Explore the expectations he would have at every moment of this journey. What are his emotional needs at this moment of the journey? How can you as a brand exceed or fail to meet these expectations? How can you evoke the positive emotions we want consumers to feel at this moment?
  5. Discover the artefacts that we as a brand provide at each moment in this journey, be it a short mobile message, an email, a letter, a form we require the customer to complete, a receipt, a link to a website that we require them to log onto.
  6. Critically review the artefacts and see whether they ‘feel’ like the brand. Do they have a distinctive experience they are aiming to create?
  7. If we engage with a person at any moment in the journey, what brand experience does that interaction leave him with? Was it functional? Was it frictionless? Did he feel good about himself during that interaction? Did the person connect with me? Did he care?

Once the journey is mapped on paper, the dilemma often is how to illustrate it in a way that communicates the real customer needs as well as the collaborative ideas that have been developed.

Ultimately, journey maps can be turned into beautiful art that communicates emotions, evokes empathy and can become a crucial training tool for years to come.

The process changes that are identified in the journey sessions usually end up being amendments to existing process diagrams and those enhancements being escalated to ensure they are supported at the systems level.

Leadership questions on which to ponder on:

Are you satisfied with your team’s design skills today?

Where are the growth areas that need focus in your design team?

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